When working with clients I always emphasize the importance of full and frank disclosure of all of their assets and income.
Many clients are reluctant to disclose all of their assets or income to their former spouse for various reasons. One reason is that they feel that it is none of their spouse’s business, a second is that they own an asset that their spouse has never been aware of, and a third is that they simply can’t be bothered to collect and provide the extensive documents which are required to be produced to provide full disclosure.
Non-disclosure can be fatal. There is a decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court Cunha v. Cunha (1994), 99 B.C.L.R. (2d) 93 (S.C.) which states:
“Non-disclosure of assets is the cancer of matrimonial property litigation”
A separation agreement that is signed without full disclosure can be easily set aside by a court in the future.
Also if one party goes to court and the judge finds that they have not cooperated in disclosing fully their property and their income the judge can make assumptions that they are hiding assets or income which are at least equal to the assets or income which they have disclosed and make orders accordingly. Judges can also deal with non-disclosure by awarding costs or double costs to the other spouse.
In summary there is no surer way to lose one’s credibility before a judge than to be caught not disclosing property and/or income and the consequences can be severe.
Deborah A. Todd